We know that saving money is important, but skimping on your manuscript when it counts can spell disaster. Editing is one of the most important steps you’ll take in the publishing process. Editing is not the time to pinch pennies. The good news is, you can save money when it comes to editing by following these formatting styles used by professional editors:
1. To emphasize a word in a sentence, use italics; not bold, not ALL CAPS, not underline.
2. Don’t use “also” and “and” in the same sentence.
3. It’s okay to use contractions liberally; “you’re” not “you are”; “he’d” not “he would” unless you are writing a work of academic or technology.
4. Don’t mix second person (you) with first person (I) in the same paragraph; that changes the POV (point of view).
5. Eliminate “you must” and “you should” as much as possible.
6. Always question the use of the verb “try” – It’s overused and weak.
7. In text, spell out state names fully, e.g., Colorado not CO.
8. Use “I think” and “I believe” sparingly – it’s assumed.
9. Differentiate between “believe” and “feel”; they are different.
10. Take the author’s voice out of the writing as much as possible. This is called narrative intrusion and will take your reader away from the story.
11. Use the verb form of a word rather than the noun form, e.g., Do you have struggles? Do you struggle?
12. Present tense is more powerful than future tense. “This book shows you how” is stronger than “this book will show you how.”
13. Dump weak four-letter words you just don’t need: very, some, much.
14. Use active verbs, the engines that drive writing; make better word choices for “is” “was” “were” verbs when possible.
15. Replace ubiquitous verbs such as “do” and “got” with more active verbs.
16. Be conscious of which nouns are plural and which are singular, e.g., staff is singular so don’t follow it with “they.”
17. “For example” abbreviated is e.g. (not i.e.); use i.e., (with a comma) when you mean “that is” (to further clarify a point).
18. Vary sentence length. This helps to keep a firm grasp on reader attention no matter what you write about. And no more than 21 words in a sentence; divide long sentences into shorter ones.
19. Watch for hyphened words, e.g., follow up (is a noun and verb); follow-up (is an adjective).
20. Use numerals in your chapter headings instead of spelling out, e.g., Chapter 1, not Chapter One.
21. “Since” is used for lapse of time. “Because” is used for “the reason that.”
22. Eliminate “that” and “some” as much as possible.
23. “Awhile” means “for a while”; saying “for awhile” is like saying “for for a while.”
24. Kinship names, such as “Dad” versus “my dad.” Capitalize when the name is used as a proper name or is used as a command, but not when used as a general term, e.g., Dad came home early. My dad came home early. Dad, you came home early.
25. Watch for redundant adverbs. The radio blared loudly. (Blare connotes loudness.) The father clenched his teeth tightly. (There’s no other way to clench teeth.)
These are just a few editing tips that can help you save money when it comes time to hire an editor. The less work your editor has to do, the more cost savings for you.